Wednesday 20 August 2008

A Point of Law

An Ancient Coin Collectors' Guild officer said on the Britarch forum this morning:

Archaeologists such as Paul Barford tend to interpret "stolen" as
also meaning
illegally excavated or illegally exported. That
is not the case under present law either in the UK or in the USA.

In the United Kingdom, excavation is illegal primarily when it takes place when it is done without the permission of the landowners who own the artefacts in their land. It is theft. There is a summary (not very well laid out, but reasonably comprehensive) of the British law related to this on the Nighthawks Survey homepage. Perhaps Californinan “professional numismatists” would do well to check out British law referring to the retrieval of archaeological material before venturing to tell British archaeologists what-is-what; they know. (The less Mr Welsh says about British export licences in present company perhaps the better.)


David Gill said...

Why does Welsh continue to misunderstand the PAS? For his earlier confusion on the subject see here.

Paul Barford said...

Beats me, its not as if he's not had opportunity to find out, there is a lot even on the Internet about all these things. In plain English.

All the more odd as he chairs the "International Affairs Committee" (number of members unknown) of the ACCG, so you'd expect him to know, since - as you know - promoting "the British model" for use by other source countries is a leitmotif of ACCG rhetoric. Also of course they have sponsored Roger Bland, who currently runs the PAS to come to them in the States and deliver three talks (Washington, New York and Chigago) on the topic, you'd think that would have sorted them out.

But as I've pointed out in this blog it seems very much to me that portable antiquity collectors as a whole are not so keen on debating facts (and drawing conclusions from them) but operating with myths which serve to define their identity and justify their actions.

A lot of them promote "the British way" as the "most enlightened (sic) antiquities laws" and yet when you look deeper into what they are saying, it becomes obvious that in the majority of cases they have no clear idea about how the various systems in the UK work, which rather hinders discussion of their ideas.

Ed Snible said...

David Welsh may be thinking of Italian law under which undiscovered antiquities belong to the Italian state.

I'm an ACCG member but not an officer. I saw Bland's talk in New York. Bland had a lot of good information on the PAS for newly found old coins.

Where on the Internet can I find my collecting obligations? As an American, when I buy a coin from a UK dealer, say from Spink's web site, what is required on my part beyond payment? I currently keep the dealer invoice for US tax purposes. If I visit London later with the coin in my pocket (not to sell) what rules will I be expected to follow? Will I need to file paperwork to import and export it again? Will I need documentation proving the coin was found pre-2003 to do so?

Paul Barford said...

Well, what he was THINKING of, only he knows. The point is he told Brits what British law 'says' and got it wrong.

I'd not shout too loudly about being an ACCG member while its officers are spreading this sort of nonsense about....

With regard to your question, Basically any archaeological find from British soil needs an export licence to be taken legally out of the country. The MLA and DCMS site contains the details I think. or you could ask the British embassy in your country. The PAS site also contains advice for buyers of antiquities from the UK.

Ed Snible said...

Paul, you claim there is a lot of information on the Internet in plain English. I'm admitting I can't understand it. If I cannot understand it probably others cannot either.

The PAS page you refer to is [ ] "Advice for people buying archaeological objects from the UK". It advises me to get the seller to sign a statement. It says UK objects needed an Export License. If I buy a Roman coin minted in Rome found in Britain is it a "UK object"? What kind of disclaimer certificates do I need? What if I purchase a Greek coin that wasn't found in the UK? If an object receives an Export license can it be re-used if I want to carry the object around with me while visiting the UK or is a new one needed each time?

It is fine if you don't know but don't claim it's all online in plain English while simultaneously advising me to contact your embassy.

The MLA site you refer to is here and it has a flow chart.

The flow chart doesn't mention coins and it doesn't define all the terms. It doesn't mention PAS registration at all.

Obviously it is not your job to advise me on legal matters but your blog advocates following the rules so perhaps a post explaining the rules would help your cause.

Paul Barford said...

OK, I'll do a post late this morning, but I am not a lawyer.

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.